I have been contacted by a number of constituents regarding several different Early Day Motion (EDMs) relating to animal testing and experiments on animals.
I have always been a strong supporter of animal welfare, and I agree that the use of animals in scientific procedures is an especially sensitive issue. Each area of animal research raises specific ethical, welfare and scientific concerns. I believe in a science-led evidence-based approach.
In the Liberal Democrat 2017 manifesto, my party committed to minimising the use of animals in scientific experimentation and promised to fund research into alternatives. I was pleased that, during the Coalition, Liberal Democrats were able to reduce the number of live animal experiments. Former Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone banned the testing of household products, such as air fresheners, paints and detergents, on animals. Her successor, Norman Baker, also pushed for greater transparency in animal testing. He proposed to remove the ban on Freedom of Information requests to the Home Office about the licensing and inspection of animal welfare testing. Unfortunately, he was unable to convince other Ministers to remove the ban before the 2015 General Election.
I recognise that any significant change in policy will only happen if we continue to work with industry to find suitable alternatives to animal testing. In the meantime, I remain incredibly supportive of measures that are being taken to reduce the use of animals in scientific research.
I was happy to sign my name to several EDMs (EDM 2113 and EDM 2070) which call on the Government to introduce a ban on the use of living animals for warfare experiments and welcomes the assurances from the Government that animal welfare standards will be maintained or improved in the event of the UK leaving the European Union and that animal sentience will be recognised in UK law.
I also wrote to the Home Secretary to put forward the concerns raised with me by constituents and I include below a copy of the response I received.